It’s a long way from Dublin to Donegal, and if you’re a greyhound owner carrying one in the back of the van that has just tasted defeat at Shelbourne, the mile posts can seem to be spaced even wider apart. And it’s usually raining.
But, if you belong to the McGhee kennel in Lifford, the trip through a whole series of counties can pass very quickly. Like on Friday night last, for instance. On tow was Ardnasool Jet, which, earlier in the night, had once again lived up to the billing he was given in this column a few months ago.
Well, has there ever been a better sprinter than the Donegal Dynamo? He had us energised after his win in last year’s Irish Sprint Cup at Dundalk Stadium, and when he came out to successfully defend his title a number of weeks back having in the meantime won on Shelbourne Park’s Night of the Stars, it was time to reach for the superlatives.
Now the 70lb son of Droopys Jet and Kilara Jade has added to that history-making feat by taking the Islandbridge Sprint, headquarters’ top short-distance event, winning the €2,000 first prize in the style of a true great.
Blame The Game, another smashing performer whose majority of wins have been at Dowdallshill, was in opposition, housed perfectly in six. But while Martin Lanney’s charge ran another fine race, taking the runner-up spot, he was no real threat to Ardnasool.
Coming home unchallenged, Adrian McGhee’s dog recorded 18.33, a figure which lowered his own track record by almost a length. He wasn’t first to show, but on hitting the ground was gone. Before reaching the bend he had the spoils in safe keeping.
Not yet a three-year-old, Ardnasool is unlikely to be moved up in distance. He’s been kept in training, probably contesting one-offs in the absence of any major sprint competitions, and as connections said after his second Sprint Cup win, a return to Dowdallshill for the hat-trick bid would be firmly on the agenda.
And while Ardnasool Jet was strutting his stuff, back at the track where he has registered most of his 16 wins (from 22 outings) the opening round heats of the May Novice 525 were being decided. Effernogue Patsy was the star turn, the Wexford runner winning by nine lengths in 28.85.
None of the other heat-winners broke 29 seconds, though the Coalisland runner, Cree Astra, went close. Martin McAliskey’s runner overcame early trouble to go right away for a nine-length win in 29.07.
An illustration, perhaps, of how much the local training ranks have thinned out in recent times, was the inclusion of just four runners from around these parts in the entry of 30 in this €1,400-to-the-winner competition for greyhounds having their first race.